#BookADayUK 11: Secondhand bookshop gem, or “Not the aspic!”

Oh, I’ve been meaning to write about this book for a long time now.

Okay, so I didn’t actually get this from a secondhand bookshop, as Borough Press‘s #BookADayUK prompt suggests. However, I did get it secondhand, and boy oh boy, is it a gem.

Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 1—yes, there must be more!

I picked up Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 1 (yes, there are apparently more volumes; is that a threat on their part?) from the breakroom table at my last job. When I began flipping through the pages, my first thought was of BE BOLD WITH BANANAS.

Never be bold with bananas, kids.

The Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 1 is not quite as bold or ground-breaking as BE BOLD WITH BANANAS—thank heavens for that—but it covers everything from abalone to bean sprouts, and that’s a lot of room to do a lot of damage.


Take, for example, artichokes. I love a good artichoke, but you have to think, the first person who ever looked at one of those plants and thought, “Hey, I bet this would be DELICIOUS” must have been close to starving, because those things are like the porcupines of the vegetable world.

But they don’t deserve this:

Artichoke Shrimp Salad. This should be illegal.

My first thought upon seeing this was “OMG WHAT ARE THOSE GRAINY ROUND THINGS ON THE OUTSIDE?” My second thought was that the little salt cellar is adorable. But it doesn’t make up for the travesty sitting front and center.

Backing up alphabetically to apricots, we can see that even fruit is not safe in this chamber of horrors:

Apricot cake. Allegedly.

For starters, canned apricots. Secondly WHAT ARE THOSE ARE THOSE HOT DOG BUNS WHAT THE HELL?

Oh, but it gets better… or worse, depending on how you look at it. Take curried apricot pork chops.

Curried apricot pork chops. Good luck finding the pork chops in that soup of sick.

Good luck finding the pork chops swimming in that soup of sick. Are they trying to traumatize people here? Did the photographer get sick right before he was supposed to take this shot?

What they do to avocados is just as bad, though:

Avocado lime pie. Just, no.

If they wanted to be accurate, they should have called the avocado lime pie “How to turn your kids off of avocados, and limes, and pies. And living.”

As you can tell, sumptuous photography was an important part of this terrine of terror. Take, for example, this photo of several dishes artfully arrayed:

Always color coordinate your food with your decor.

This shows how important it is to make sure the food matches the room. Well, at least the retro sofa looks appealing.

When we dive into the text, we find horrors to match the photos. From the section on “Favorite Recipes from Our Fifty States” we find this under Maryland:

Don't forget to rip out the intestines!

Yeah, I have no words either. Except the one that jumped out at me: intestines. INTESTINES, people.

You like beignets? Not anymore:

Mushroom beignets? The hell?

Just, no.

Of course, I have saved the worst for last. I can’t spare you from the attack of the aspic:

How to cook superbly: BY NEVER MAKING ASPICS.

You want to cook superbly, Helen? Start by never making an aspic, ever.

Here's how!


Fish jello! Yum!




Is that tomato... or blood?

Nonononono! (Is that—is that blood?)

As you know, I am working on thinning out my bookshelves lately, but I’m torn with this book. Do I get it out of the house, or do I keep it from falling into other unsuspecting hands? The horror, I tell you. The horror.


2 thoughts on “#BookADayUK 11: Secondhand bookshop gem, or “Not the aspic!”

  1. Oh my god, I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. I love cookbooks of this era for the *exact* reasons you highlighted above. I have a shelf full of them, but I had not seen this one. The hot dog buns are cra-cray, as the kids say these days. Or at least as SNL tells me they do. Couple of thoughts, One: “How to turn your kids off of avocados, and limes, and pies. And living.” is on the money. My mother-in-law, who was a home economics teacher and a damned good cook ruined gelatin for Rob and his brother by trying to get them to eat green beans by suspending them in lime Jello. Rob won’t touch the stuff. (Though he loves green beans. Hmmm.) Second thought: If you haven’t seen the British series Chef! starring Lenny Henry run don’t walk to um, well, wherever you stream it from these days, and repair that situation. The episode your post brought to mind concerned the preparation of a terrine, and the reasons why it is no longer done: “It looks like a Tuscan summer. It tastes like a Neapolitan garbage heap.”

    • I LOVED Chef! I watched it when my parents were living abroad and thought it was hilarious. It’s been ages since I saw it; I should see if it’s on Netflix.

      And why, why, WHY would anyone think green beans and lime Jello is a good idea?

      At some point, my mom had one of those recipe card libraries where they send you a new packet of recipes every month. I wonder if that’s still hanging around. I bet that would make for an interesting post as well….

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